04/02/2010 12:00AM

Nordic Truce stays unbeaten in Transylvania


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Huge youngish crowd throngs Keeneland on beautiful opening day. Christophe Clement wins with a promising turf horse. Dog bites man.

No surprises here, as favored Nordic Truce was able to get up in the final strides to win the featured when Keeneland opened its 15-day spring meet before a record crowd of 24,734.

Nordic Truce "put me in the race early and relaxed down the backstretch," said Julien Leparoux, who was aboard the 3-year-old Yes It's True colt for Clement and owner Ammerland Stud. "Then he came home strong for me."

Nordic Truce remained unbeaten in three career starts when prevailing as a solid favorite in a field of seven 3-year-olds, returning $4.20 after finishing 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3, $100,000 Transylvania in 1:41.31 over a firm turf.

Strike the Tiger, a 10-1 shot under John Velazquez, forged ahead turning for home after dueling for much of the way with Macias to his outside. Nordic Truce, having gotten a good ground-saving trip to that point, angled out and was put to a steady left-handed whip by Leparoux. He finally got past in the last few yards to win by a neck.

Guys Reward rallied belatedly to be part of a three-horse photo when finishing just a nose behind Strike the Tiger. Then came King Ledley, Alfarabi, Macias, and Celtic New Year. Call Shot and Lost Aptitude were early scratches.

Lost Aptitude was withdrawn by Dale Romans because "it just looked like there was too much speed in there," he said. "We'll run him back in the American Turf" on April 30 at Churchill Downs.

Weather was spectacular Friday, with temperatures approaching 80. It helped to entice a crowd that easily set a Keeneland record for a Friday opener, which had been 18,031 in 2006. In fact, that number also was a record for any opening day here, surpassing the 21,371 that turned out on a Saturday in 1978.